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 SportsCenter Flashback
SportsCenter Flashback looks back at the Black Sox ban.
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Wednesday, November 19, 2003
SportsCenter Flashback:
The Chicago Black Sox banned from baseball

Eighty years ago, Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis banned eight members of the 1919 Chicago White Sox from baseball. On Sunday at 8 p.m. ET, ESPN Classic will present a special look back at the Black Sox scandal. SportsCenter Flashback: Chicago Black Sox - Banned from Baseball uses testimony, photos, film and experts on the subject to bring the scandal into focus.

Key moments in the Black Sox scandal

Black Sox ban
  • Asinof: The Black Sox scandal is forever
  • Neyer: Say it ain't so ... for Joe and the Hall
  • Rovell: Shoeless Joe still a hit with collectors
  • Baseball's gambling scandals
  • October 9, 1919
    The fix is in

    Amid rumors that the World Series is fixed, the Chicago White Sox lose the eighth and deciding game to Cincinnati, 10-5, on the 48-year anniversary of Mrs. O'Leary's cow causing the worst fire in Chicago history. The Reds win the best-of-nine Series five games to three.

    Chicago starter Lefty Williams was 23-11 during the season but had lost his first two Series starts. He doesn't last long today, removed with one out in the first after allowing two singles followed by two doubles. In 1921, Williams will be one of eight Black Sox banned from baseball by Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis for throwing the Series.

    The Reds score four runs in the first on the way to a 10-1 lead in Chicago. Hod Eller gains his second complete-game victory as Cincinnati wins its first Series.

    Chicago's Shoeless Joe Jackson, who also will be suspended, leads all hitters (with at least eight at-bats) with a .375 batting average and his six RBI top the White Sox.

    September 29, 1920
    "Say it ain't so, Joe"

    Yesterday, a Cook County (Illinois) grand jury voted indictments against eight members of the 1919 Chicago White Sox after pitcher Eddie Cicotte and outfielder "Shoeless" Joe Jackson told how the 1919 World Series was fixed for the Cincinnati Reds to win.

    Today's Chicago Herald and Examiner reports that after Jackson left the courthouse, "one little urchin in the crowd grabbed him by the coat sleeve.

    " 'It ain't true, is it?' he said.

    " 'Yes, kid, I'm afraid it is,' Jackson replied.

    " 'Well, I'd never have thought it,' the boy exclaimed."

    Passed down over the years, it is from this newspaper story that we get the famous tale -- one that many think is apocryphal -- of a young boy saying, "Say it ain't so, Joe."

    March 12, 1921

    While the eight Chicago White Sox accused of throwing the 1919 World Series await trial, baseball commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis, just two months on the job, suspends the players. Landis' ruling follows a report that the trial in Chicago will be delayed.

    "I deeply regret the postponement of these cases," Landis says. "However, baseball is not powerless to protect itself. All of the indicted players have today been placed on the ineligible list."

    The eight players are Shoeless Joe Jackson, Eddie Cicotte, Chick Gandil, Swede Risberg, Buck Weaver, Claude "Lefty" Williams, "Happy" Felsch and Fred McMullen. They will be acquitted by a jury in August, but Landis will ban the Black Sox for life.

    August 3, 1921
    Clean Sox are banned

    Last night, several hundred spectators in a Chicago courtroom boomed "Hooray for the clean Sox!" when seven former White Sox players and two gamblers were acquitted by a jury on charges that they conspired to defraud the public through the throwing of the 1919 World Series.

    The players' joy doesn't last 24 hours. Today, Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis bans the eight Black Sox for life. Landis issues this statement: "Regardless of the verdict of juries, no player that throws a ballgame; no player that undertakes or promises to throw a ballgame; no player that sits in a conference with a bunch of crooked players and gamblers where the ways and means of throwing games are planned and discussed and does not promptly tell his club about it, will ever play professional baseball."

    The seven Chicago players who were acquitted and banned are Shoeless Joe Jackson, Eddie Cicotte, Buck Weaver, Swede Risberg, Chick Gandil, Happy Felsch and Lefty Williams. The eighth man out is Fred McMullin, whose case didn't go to trial.

    January 13, 1922
    Weaver appeal denied

    In the summer of 1921, a jury in Chicago acquitted the Black Sox of conspiracy to defraud the public concerning the 1919 World Series. Two days later, Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis banned the eight players for life.

    The New York Times reports today that Buck Weaver, one of the eight, had personally appealed last week to Landis for reinstatement to organized baseball. The third baseman told Landis that though he was offered the bribe to throw the Series, he never accepted the money and played his best.

    Landis will never lift the ban for Weaver -- or any of the Black Sox.

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